GREENFIELD — A Hancock County judge has denied a local principal’s request to have the criminal case against him thrown out of court, records show.
Scott Shipley, 43, 9261 N. Water Bay Circle, McCordsville, faces a misdemeanor charge alleging he failed to properly report allegations that a Mt. Vernon student had been sexual assaulted by a teacher’s aide Shipley supervised.
Prosecutors say Shipley, principal at Mt. Vernon Middle School, did not do enough to ensure law enforcement officers were notified of the rumors of potential misbehavior by his employee, Kisha Nuckols, who now faces four felony sexual assault charges after two students told police they met the woman for sex after school.
State law requires anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected to report those suspicions to police or the Indiana Department of Child Services.
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Shipley’s attorney recently asked a judge to dismiss the criminal case against his client, arguing investigators’ claims had no merit because Shipley knew the alleged victim was older than 18 — not a child — when he was notified of the rumors, so he wouldn’t have been held to the same reporting standard, according court documents. John Tompkins of Indianapolis, Shipley’s attorney, further argued that Shipley should be immune from prosecution because his inquires of other school district administrators caused a report to be filed with police, records state.
But Hancock County Superior Court 2 Judge Dan Marshall decided this week that Shipley’s case will proceed, formally denying the man’s request to dismiss the case nearly a month after a hearing on the motion was held.
Shipley is expected back in court for a pretrial conference on Oct. 14. A tentative jury trial date has been scheduled for Dec. 20.
Investigators began looking into Shipley’s actions while investigating Nuckols, a Fortville mother who was charged in April with child seduction and dissemination of matters harmful to minors after two boys came forward to say they had sexual relationships with the 38-year-old woman, according to court documents.
Court records show prosecutors have offered a plea agreement to Nuckols, 321 E. Delaware St., Fortville, whose case is pending in Hancock Circuit Court. The details of plea deals are not public record, however, until they are read aloud in court or approved by the judge.
A change of plea hearing for Nuckols’ case has not yet been scheduled, records show. She was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday, according to court records.
Nuckols, who was fired after the allegations arose, worked as a teacher’s aide at Mt. Vernon Middle School under Shipley’s supervision. She had previously worked as a substitute teacher at Mt. Vernon High School.
Investigators say a high school employee called Shipley on March 12 — the first Saturday of the district’s two-week spring break — alerting him to rumors Nuckols sent naked pictures to an 18-year-old male high school student, court document state.
Shipley told the judge during a hearing last month he believed his colleague was informing him of a possible personnel issue — not making a reported of suspected child abuse.
Shipley told the judge he repeatedly asked his colleague for the age of the student who was allegedly involved, and the woman reported the boy was older than 18.
Shipley’s attorney argued the man did nothing wrong by not immediately contacting police because the law requires Hoosiers to report suspected sex crimes only against children. Since the victim was legally an adult, the charge prosecutors filed against Shipley did not apply to case, Tompkins argued in his motion for the judge to dismiss the case.
Prosecutors said during a recent hearing that Tompkins’ arguments were a defense that needed to be heard by a jury. They asked the judge to deny Shipley’s request to dismiss the case and allow the proceeding to continue.
Shipley’s trial date is scheduled for Dec. 20.